Late flurry falls short in battle of Blues and Whites
UConn tackles UB, 24-17
Published: Saturday, September 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
A flash of life was put on display at the University of Connecticut’s Rentschler Field on Saturday. A quick touchdown followed by an onside kick recovery invigorated UB’s football team.
The Bulls (1-3, 0-1 Mid-American Conference) fell silent for three quarters before setting themselves up for a potential game-tying touchdown drive against UConn (3-2, 0-0 Big East). Their early dormancy, however, proved too much to overcome, as the Huskies held on for a 24-17 victory.
This game was a gutsy performance for the young Bulls running backs, who filled in nicely for the injured junior Branden Oliver.
“I thought [freshman] Devin Campbell and [junior] Brandon Murie, they stepped in and stepped up,” said head coach Jeff Quinn. “I think all week they understood their role and responsibility. We didn’t have Bo, we didn’t have [injured second-string running back sophomore James Potts], we didn’t have [injured No. 2 receiver] Fred Lee – key players on the offensive side of the ball.”
The “gruesome two-some,” as they like to be called, combined for 24 carries, 83 yards and one touchdown.
Campbell took his increased amount of carries as a learning experience, even though his team walked away with a loss.
“I don’t really consider myself a freshman anymore; I consider myself a football player,” Campbell said. “I know I had to step up when Bo went down and I just came out and did what I could do.”
Buffalo’s coaching staff gave UB fans excitement in the third quarter, drawing up a “hook and ladder” play – a 50-yard gain involving a lateral from junior wide receiver Alex Neutz to Murie – that ignited the offense.
Although he didn’t get credited with the reception, his reception touchdown was the first of his career – something that Murie was prepared for.
“We practiced that play. We practice special plays to get ready for situations like that,” Murie said. “Coach called that at a perfect time. We executed it and Neutz took a big hit for me he pitched it to me and got drilled.”
The Bulls trailed 24-14 but fought back behind the impressive play of sophomore linebacker Lee Skinner, who kept the Huskies honest for most of the game by compiling 13 tackles.
“You look at a guy like Lee Skinner who had an all-time high in tackles. I mean he was all over the place,” Quinn said. “I wish he would have caught that doggone interception opportunity.”
A 44-yard field goal from sophomore Patrick Clarke brought the Bulls within a touchdown and the Bulls’ defense forced a three-and-out, giving the offense one last chance to potentially tie the game. The Bulls could only advance the ball to the 41-yard line before turning it over on downs.
“There was some great effort from the defense late in the game that I thought really allowed us to be able to have that possession in the last final seconds of the game,” Quinn said. “We weren’t able to have some last second heroics in that moment.”
After going 4-for-22 with 96 yards last week against Kent State, junior quarterback Alex Zordich finished the game 13-for-30 with a touchdown and one interception.
“We’re happy that we didn’t quit. We know that about our team: that we are not going to quit,” Zordich said. “We know we have a lot of season left; to say that we are satisfied, I don’t think that’s the word. We [didn’t] win. We came here to win, period. End of story.”
The Bulls’ schedule will not get any easier as they travel to Athens, Ohio next Saturday to take on the undefeated Bobcats (5-0, 1-0 MAC).